This article originally appeared in the Portland Press Herald.
The new span between Portland and Falmouth is designed for more than automobiles.
PORTLAND – Transportation officials on Monday will present final designs for the new $23.5 million bridge connecting Portland to Falmouth.
BRIDGE MEETING: THE PUBLIC will be able to see new bridge designs and ask questions at 6 p.m. Monday in the State of Maine room in Portland City Hall.
The bridge is designed to feature a 10-foot-wide multiuse lane for cyclists and pedestrians and to have platforms for fishermen, said Carol Morris, who is handling project communications for theMaine Department of Transportation. “It’s going to have a strong recreation aspect,” Morris said.
The public will be able to see the new designs and ask questions about the project Monday starting at 6 p.m. in the State of Maine room in Portland’s City Hall.
The new bridge, which was designed and is being built by CPM Constructors of Freeport and VHB of Watertown, Mass., is under construction next to the original 1,400-foot-long Martin’s Point Bridge, which dates back to early 1940s.
The U.S. Route 1 bridge over the Presumpscot River is a major link in the local transportation grid, carrying about 15,600 vehicles daily.
But it is also popular with cyclists and fishermen.
During construction, cyclists have complained about hazardous riding conditions. They either have to ride in the narrowed traffic lanes or on makeshift sidewalks also used by walkers.
Morris said the 10-foot-wide, multiuse path will be located on the downstream, ocean side of the bridge. It was included based on public feedback, she said.
One group advocating for the lane was the Bicycle Coalition Maine, which hailed the design in a statement Friday.
“This bridge is a major travel route for those living north of Portland and the new infrastructure will greatly improve the quality of many cyclists’ commutes and recreational rides,” the group said.
Brian Allenby, the coalition’s communications director, said he commutes from Cumberland to Portland three to four days per week. He’s been surprised by how courteous and willing to share the road motorists have been during construction.
Even so, he’s eager for the project to be completed.
“It looks like it’s going to be great,” he said.
Morris said the new bridge, which will also have two platforms for fishermen and is designed to blend in with its natural surroundings, is on track to open to traffic in early 2014.
Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at: